KAMPALA – Earlier this year in March, the President banned what he termed as ‘merry-making’ in order to reduce the potential of spreading the Coronavirus.
He directed that bars should be closed and group-drinking stopped. “Drunkards sit close to one another. They speak with saliva coming out of their mouth. They are a danger to themselves,” he said.
However, in the subsequent relaxation of the lock down by the president, he allowed restaurants to open for business in order to allow people to enjoy their meals.
On July 20th 22 people were arrested for flouting Covid preventive guidelines after they were found partying at La Venti bar in Najeera outside Kampala in an operation by the territorial police at Kira division targeting bars that were continuing to operate within the areas of Kira Municipality.
According to Mr Francis Emojongo the LC2 Chairperson of Bugolobi Parish, one of the areas in Kampala that is considered to be a hub of bars, bars are benching on the opened restaurant areas that were allowed to operate to do business as usual.
“Yes the bars operate in Bugolobi Parish. When they opened the restaurants, bars used this as an excuse to operate. Most of these places are restaurants, bars and lounges and hide under this. They will say that it’s lunch time and what they serve behind the curtains will be under the pretext that restaurants are allowed to operate,” he says.
On March 20th, over 70 bars in Kampala city were shut down by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) for flaunting President Yoweri Museveni’s directives on the spread of Coronavirus.
The bars had defied the decree and continued with business as usual.
They were sealed off with KCCA seals and owners were warned not to open their premises or else they would lose their licenses.
Emojongo explains that people go to have lunch and buy a beer under the table and when maybe you go to ask the proprietors about anything they will be like ‘No, I am allowed to serve lunch and I am not selling beer,” and these he says are some of the challenges that authorities like him face on ground.
“The SOP’s are released from the government and as an LC2, we are service deliverers, we do just like the government says. They say no bars should open, fine, no boda-bodas should operate beyond 7pm, fine. That is the least we can do.”
Bars in the past have been under public scrutiny especially those in the residential areas for noise pollution and proprietors having to set up bar businesses near schools.